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Connected Car 2019: Infinite FOMO

by Roger Lanctot | Jan 14, 2019

Google, Apple and Tesla Motors introduced the automotive industry to FOMO – the fear of missing out – more than six years with their public and private efforts to introduce autonomous vehicle technology. The prospect of Silicon Valley companies taking charge of the development of electric autonomous vehicles and shared transportation alternatives fueled a furious round of investments and acquisitions that has only recently lost some steam.

Ford Motor Company’s shutdown of Chariot last week and Volkswagen’s late 2018 write-down of its investment in Gett point to a certain amount of automotive industry FOMO fatigue. It would seem that the flow of billions of dollars into revenue-less and money-losing startups might be on the verge of ending as 2019 begins.

It is important to remember, how 2018 ended. On December 19, Cambridge Telematics announced a $500M investment in the company from Softbank Vision Fund. The press release proclaimed: “This investment will accelerate the adoption of CMT’s successful DriveWell platform used by insurers, fleets, wireless carriers, and other entities to measure driving risk and improve driver safety. It will also fuel CMT’s growth in automated crash and claims management, video analytics, and safety for emerging vehicle and mobility systems."

This investment stands out as an arbiter of further financial commitments to connected car innovation strategies targeting mobility services, autonomous driving and electrification in 2019 and beyond. In fact, 2019 begins with wireless carriers anticipating major investments in 5G technology in the coming years along with global regional commitments to smart city technologies and overall transportation redevelopment.

Whether it is the pursuit of automated driving technologies - intended to mitigate the growing annual global toll of 1.2M+ highway fatalities - or electrification to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming - the challenges of evolving transportation beyond individually owned and operated vehicles remains. Governments and car makers are committed to these goals.

It’s true that car makers are scratching their heads at the lack or short-term returns on their shared, automated, connected and electrified vehicle commitments. But 2019 is likely to represent a time to pause to gulp in a second wind as Tier 1 suppliers, wireless carriers, Chinese tech companies and others step in to fund the next wave of development.

It is worth noting that we have to see Amazon put its automotive cards on the table as the Alexa Auto team begins to spread its wings along with regional artificial intelligence players from around the world including Baidu, Yandex and many others. A fresh flow of funds can be expected this year.

We are years away from reaping the rewards of mobility service, electrification, and automated driving investments. And it is crystal clear that the automotive industry has yet failed to unlock the killer application behind the connected car – even though all participants agree that all cars must be connected. Buckle up and belly-up to the bar - there is money to be had to keep us all afloat on our red ocean in 2019.

 
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